Month: February 2011

Sold! US Rights to The Upgrade (Phew)

They say all good things come to he who waits, but I have no idea if that’s true. I’ve never really been a he who waits.

Certainly my experience in finding a US publisher for my forthcoming book suggests there’s some truth in the aphorism. Despite the best efforts of my agent, my publisher and countless well-meaning, well-connected friends, no publisher on this side of the Atlantic took even a slight interest in The Upgrade. Some, I’m sure, thought it was a lousy book, but most simply demurred on the grounds that it was “very British”.

By last month the situation had got so desperate – so ridiculous – that I wrote a column on TechCrunch pleading for someone to build an eBay for foreign book rights; a platform where I could at least give away the rights for free to some backwater US publisher with nothing to lose.

Sadly, as of today, no entrepreneur has heeded my call. But, to be honest, I don’t really care: the column had another slightly ironic – and utterly satisfying – consequence. It finally got me a US deal.

With a great publisher. For actual money.

The break came a few hours after the column was published. An email arrived from Gary Baddeley, CEO of New York based publishers, The Disinformation Company – one of my favourite indy publishing houses since way back in my Friday Project days. Gary, it turns out, is an avid reader of TechCrunch; and not only because Disinformation sublets part of its NY headquarters to TechCrunch. Small world, right? More importantly, Gary is a fellow displaced Brit, having moved to the US from Blighty some twenty years ago.

Still, you can take the boy out of the UK etc — Gary thought he might be able to see beyond the “very Britishness” of the book, at least enough to judge it on his merits. A pdf was sent, a couple of days passed, generous words were returned, more emails bounced back and forward, terms were discussed and — long story short — this morning I received a set of countersigned contracts and the first of three advance cheques checks. Disinformation will publish the US edition of The Upgrade early next year in hardcover and ebook formats.


Of course I’m dooming the relationship by saying this, but I’m genuinely pleased that the twists and turns of international publishing finally lead me to Disinfo’s door. Or them to mine. As I say, I’ve long been a fan of the company and, more importantly, it’s clear even from our preliminary discussions that Gary “gets” the book. Which probably vindicates everyone else who said that only British people would like it.

In any case, Gary has made the eminently sensible contractual demand that I take another pass through the manuscript, tweaking any painfully British phrases and concepts to make them more palatable to Americans. Such are the yawning lead times of publishing, I only have two fortnights a month to get it done, so I’d better get cracking.

Get cracking? Is that one of ours too?

Kick off?

Oh God.

How I spent my 31st birthday

With all the fuss regarding AOL buying the HuffPo and Arianna Huffington taking over as editor in chief of all content, it’s easy to forget that writing for TechCrunch isn’t actually my real job. My real job is writing books about myself.

I’m right in the middle of that yawning quiet period between filing the manuscript for The Upgrade and the publication date in May. During that time, my publicist has urged me – on pain of promotional death – not to do any personal press. Generally I am happy to be under her thumb: she understands her job way better than I do. But every so often I can’t help myself.

Take, for example, the email I received at the end of last year from a feature writer at Loaded magazine. Yep, Loaded.

Would I be interested in being profiled by them about my life living in hotels. My 30-year-old (at the time) self was unconvinced : “Loaded? I’m a 30 year old author, not a 19 year old glamour model – what business do I have in the pages of Loaded?” My 18-year-old self, however, had already replied to the email. Fuck Yeah.

And so, on the morning of my 31st birthday, I opened the door to my London hotel room and welcomed Loaded’s Sam Rowe, photographer Vincent Dolman, a couple of other Loaded staffers and – oh yes – the very lovely Prudence.

With Robert Loch sitting patiently in the corner, waiting for lunch and laughing his arse off, the next two hours were spent… well… just look

David Rowe’s full piece is here.

My 18 year old self just high-fived my 30-year-old self, while my 31-year-old self is trying hard to pretend he’s not even slightly pleased with himself.

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